There have been a few reports in the news this week noting the 50th anniversary on October 6 of the end of Summer of Love. In case you aren’t old enough to remember it, here is what Wikipedia has to say about it:
The Summer of Love was a social phenomenon that occurred during the summer of 1967, when as many as 100,000 people, mostly young people sporting hippie fashions of dress and behavior [Editor’s note – i.e. smoking pot] converged in San Francisco’s neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury.
The hippies, also known as flower children, were mostly college and high-school students that began streaming into the Haight, as the district was known, during the spring break of 1967. The media’s coverage of hippie life in Haight-Ashbury drew the attention of youth from all over America.
The activities in the area were reported almost daily. Hippies were the subject of a cover story in Time magazine, and the Haight was overrun by teenage runaways, panhandlers, drug dealers, assorted charlatans, and to the chagrin of the hippies, gawking tourists.
In October 6, 1967, a group of hippie ‘elders’ organized a mock funeral procession through the Haight neighborhood called “The Death of the Hippie.” Participants carried a coffin down Haight Street, and the crowd stopped for a “kneel-in” at the corner of Haight and Ashbury.
One of the organizers, Mary Kasper, explained the intended message:
“We wanted to signal that this was the end of it, to stay where you are, bring the revolution to where you live and don’t come here because it’s over and done with.”
The real reason for this funeral was to convince the media to stop covering the Haight. The organizers sought to end the commercialization of the hippie lifestyle and the main stream appropriation of their social experiment.
So, what does this have to do with Elvis? I got the inspiration for this post when I saw a drawing of some flower children. I couldn’t help adding one more image.
I know, Elvis doesn’t really fit in, does he? But he did have a number of things going on during the summer of 1967.
For one thing, he was a newlywed, having married Priscilla on May 1. On June 10, Elvis left Memphis to go to California to begin filming Speedway. But he didn’t fly. Instead, Elvis took a big group by bus on sort-of a family vacation. The group included these buddies and their wives: Joe Esposito, Billy Smith, Jerry Schilling, Gee Gee Gambill, and Marty Lacker. Charlie Hodge came along without a female companion.
Here is Elvis driving the bus. Priscilla, Charlie Hodge, and Joe Esposito are also visible.
Many of the flower children also traveled in buses, but the comparison is stark.
One of the stops for Elvis and the gang was two nights in Flagstaff, Arizona, with a side trip to the Grand Canyon.
When Elvis finally arrived in Los Angeles, he spent the next week recording the soundtrack for Speedway. On June 21, Vernon Presley, along with wife Dee and her three sons, arrived in Los Angeles. Here is a photo taken at MGM Studios of them with Elvis, plus NY Governor Nelson Rockefeller and costar Nancy Sinatra.
Filming of Speedway started June 26 and continued through the month of July and half of August.
In late August, Elvis entered the RCA Studio on Sunset Boulevard to record songs for his next non-soundtrack album.
On August 26, Elvis and Priscilla arrived home at Graceland. Within a few days, they returned to his Circle G Ranch in northern Mississippi, but instead of horseback riding every day, Elvis took up a new hobby – target shooting.
On September 10 and 11, Elvis did some studio recording in Nashville.
On September 29, he returned to Nashville. This time he appeared in front of the Tennessee State Legislature for the proclamation of Elvis Presley Day by Governor Buford Ellington.
And finally, on October 6, 1967, the day the Summer of Love ended, Elvis and some of the guys holed up in Las Vegas prior to the start of filming of Stay Away Joe in Arizona.
One of the familiar symbols of the hippie movement was the Peace Sign.
Here is my last lame attempt to connect Elvis with the Summer of Love.
Later, man. Peace and love.
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